The 1936 Summer Olympics


The 1936 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad, nternational multi-sport event that was held in 1936 in Berlin, Germany.

The 1936 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event that was held in 1936 in Berlin, Germany. Berlin won the bid to host the Games over Barcelona, Spain, on 26 April 1931, at the 29th IOC Session in Barcelona (two years before the Nazis came to power). It marked the second and final time that the International Olympic Committee would gather to vote in a city which was bidding to host those Games. The only other time this occurred was at the inaugural IOC Session in Paris, France, on 24 April 1894. Then, Athens and Paris were chosen to host the 1896 and 1900 Games, respectively.

To outdo the Los Angeles games of 1932, Germany built a new 100,000-seat track and field stadium, six gymnasiums, and many other smaller arenas. They also installed a closed-circuit television system and radio network that reached 41 countries, with many other forms of expensive high-tech electronic equipment. Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, a favourite of Adolf Hitler, was commissioned by the German Olympic Committee to film the Games for $7 million. Her film, titled Olympia, pioneered many of the techniques now common in the filming of sports.

Hitler saw the Games as an opportunity to promote his government and ideals of racial supremacy, and the official Nazi party paper, the Völkischer Beobachter, wrote in the strongest terms that Jews and Black people should not be allowed to participate in the Games. However, when threatened with a boycott of the Games by other nations, he relented and allowed Black people and Jews to participate, and added one token participant to the German team—a German woman, Helene Mayer, who had a Jewish father. At the same time, the party removed signs stating "Jews not wanted" and similar slogans from the city's main tourist attractions. In an attempt to "clean up" Berlin, the German Ministry of the Interior authorized the chief of police to arrest all Romani (Gypsies) and keep them in a "special camp," the Berlin-Marzahn concentration camp. 

Total ticket revenues were 7.5 million Reichsmark, generating a profit of over one million marks. The official budget did not include outlays by the city of Berlin (which issued an itemized report detailing its costs of 16.5 million marks) or outlays of the German national government (which did not make its costs public, but is estimated to have spent US$30 million, chiefly in capital outlays).

Host city selection

The bidding for these Olympic Games was the first to be contested by IOC members casting their votes for their favorite host city. The vote occurred in 1931 during the reign of the Weimar Republic, before Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power in 1933. There were many other cities around the world that wanted to host this Summer Olympics, but except for Barcelona they did not receive any IOC votes. The other cities competing to hold the games were: Alexandria, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Cologne,Dublin, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Lausanne, Nuremberg, Rio de Janeiro, and Rome.

1936 Summer Olympics bidding result

 City Country

Round 1

Berlin Weimar Republic Germany 43

Barcelona Spain Spain 16

Academics cannot agree whether the IOC during this period was a willing collaborator or an organisation that favoured the aesthetics of fascist governments. Although the IOC was insulated from the reality of Nazism, elements of Hitler's regime were in parallel alignment with the sporting ideologies of the IOC.

After the Nazis took control and began instituting anti-Semitic policies, the IOC held private discussions among its delegates regarding changing the decision for Berlin. However Hitler's regime gave assurances Jewish athletes would be allowed to compete in a German Olympic team. In September 1934 the US Olympic committee publicly accepted the invitation to go to the Berlin games halting any further IOC attempts to quietly revise the decision.

The next scheduled games in 1940 were awarded to Tokyo even though Japan was becoming an aggressive militaristic,nationalist state. Japan's military adventures eventually rendered the Olympics implausible, and the military unreasonably demanded that the organizers build the venues from wood because they needed metals for the war front.

Basketball and handball made their debut at the Olympics, both as outdoor sports. Handball would not appear again on the program until the next German summer Olympic games in Munich in 1972.

Demonstration sports

  • Art
  • Baseball
  • Gliding
  • Wushu


  • Avus Motor Road – Athletics (Marathon, 50 km walk), Cycling (road)
  • BSV 92 Field & Stadium – Cycling (track), Handball
  • Dietrich Eckert Open-Air Theatre – Gymnastics
  • Döberitz – Equestrian (eventing), Modern pentathlon (riding)
  • Deutschlandhalle – Boxing, Weightlifting, Wrestling
  • Grünau Regatta Course – Canoeing, Rowing
  • Haus des Deutschen Sports – Fencing, Modern pentathlon (fencing)
  • Hertha-BSC Field – Football
  • Hockey Stadion – Field hockey
  • Hockey Stadion #2 – Field hockey
  • Kiel Bay – Sailing
  • Mayfield – Equestrian (dressage), polo
  • Mommsenstadion – Football
  • Olympic Stadium – Athletics, Equestrian (jumping), Football (final), Handball (final)
  • Olympic Swimming Stadium – Diving, Modern pentathlon (swimming), Swimming, Water polo
  • Police Stadium – Handball
  • Poststadion – Football
  • Ruhleben – Modern pentathlon (shooting)
  • Tennis Courts – Basketball, Fencing (épée)
  • Tennis Stadium – Basketball
  • Wannsee Golf Course – Modern pentathlon (running)
  • Wannsee Shooting Range – Shooting

The Olympic village was located at Estal in Wustermark, (at52°32′10.78″N 13°0′33.20″E), on the western edge of Berlin. The site, which was 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the centre of the city, consisted of one to two floor dormitories, dining areas, a swimming pool, and training facilities. During the Second World War, it was used as a hospital for injured Wehrmacht soldiers. In 1945 it was taken over by the Soviet Union and became a torture and interrogation centre for SMERSH. Recent efforts have been made to restore parts of the former village, but to no avail. Efforts are being made to restore the site into a living museum. The dormitory building used by Jesse Owens has been fully restored, and tours are given daily to small groups and students. The site remains relatively unknown even in Germany, but some tournaments are held at the site in an effort to boost knowledge of the venues.

Influence of Nazi ideologies

Hans von Tschammer und Osten, as Reichssportführer, i.e. head of theDeutscher Reichsbund für Leibesübungen (DRL), the Reich Sports Office, played a major role in the structure and organisation of the Olympics. He promoted the idea that the use of sports would harden the German spirit and instill unity among German youth. At the same time he also believed that sports was a "way to weed out the weak, Jewish, and other undesirables."

Von Tschammer trusted the details of the organisation of the games to Theodor Lewald and Carl Diem, the former president and secretary of the Deutscher Reichsausschuss für Leibesübungen, the forerunner of the Reich Sports Office. Among Diem's ideas for the Berlin Games was the introduction of the Olympic torch relay between Greece and the host nation (see 1936 Summer Olympics torch relay).


 The German Olympic committee, in accordance with Nazi directives, virtually barred Germans who were Jewish or Roma or had such an ancestry from participating in the Games (Helene Mayer was the only German Jew to compete at the Berlin Games). This decision meant exclusion for many of the country's top athletes such asshotputter and discus thrower Lilli Henoch, who was a four-time world record holder and 10-time German national champion, and Gretel Bergmann who was suspended from the German team just days after she set a record of 1.60 meters in the high jump.

During the Games, Hauptmann Wolfgang Fürstner, the commandant of the Olympic Village in Wustermark, was abruptly replaced by Oberstleutnant Werner von Gilsa, commander of the Berlin Guard-Regiment. The official reason given by the Nazis was because Fürstner had not acted "with the necessary energy" after 370,000 visitors had passed through the village - between 1 May to 15 June - causing significant damage to the site. However this reason was just a pretext to disparaging the half-Jewish officer and expediting his removal. Fürstner committed suicide shortly after the conclusion of the Berlin Olympics because he learned the Nuremberg Laws classified him as a Jew. As such, the career officer was to be expelled from the Wehrmacht.

Soviet Union

The Soviet Union had never participated in the Olympic Games and boycotted the 1936 summer Olympics. Instead, through the auspices of the Red Sport International, it had participated in a left-wing workers' alternative, the Spartakiad, since 1928. The USSR had intended to attend the People's Olympiad in Barcelona until it was cancelled and did attend the 1937 Workers' Summer Olympiad in Antwerp, Belgium (both of which were Spartakiad events).

Jewish community

Individual Jewish athletes from a number of countries chose to boycott the Berlin Olympics. In the United States, the American Jewish Congress and the Jewish Labor Committee supported a boycott.

Political aspects

United States Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage became a main supporter of the Games being held in Germany, arguing that "politics has no place in sport", despite having initial doubts. Later Brundage requested that a system be established to examine female athletes for what Time magazine called "sex ambiguities" after observing the performance of Czechoslovak runner and jumper Zdenka Koubkova and English shotputter and javelin thrower Mary Edith Louise Weston. (Both individuals had sex change surgery and legally changed their names to Zdenek Koubek and Mark Weston.).

Despite not coming from a fascist country, French Olympians gave what appeared to be the Roman salute at the opening ceremony, although some have later claimed that they were just performing the Olympic salute, which was in fact a very similar action.

American sprinters Sam Stoller and Marty Glickman, the only two Jews on the U.S. Olympic team, were pulled from the 4 × 100 relay team on the day of the competition, leading to speculation that U.S. Olympic committee leader Avery Brundage did not want to add to the embarrassment of Hitler by having two Jews win gold medals.

In 1937, Hollywood released the film Charlie Chan at the Olympics. The plot concerned members of the Berlin police force helping the Chinese detective apprehend a group of spies (of unnamed nationality) from trying to steal a new aerial guidance system. Despite pertaining to the Berlin Olympics, actual Games' footage used by the filmmakers was edited to remove any Nazi symbols.




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Sources: wikipedia.org


    Name Born / Since / At Died Languages
    1Jesse OwensJesse Owens12.09.191331.03.1980ee, en, lv, pl, ru
    2Adalberts  BubenkoAdalberts Bubenko16.01.191007.07.1983de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    3Edvīns BietagsEdvīns Bietags28.02.190829.09.1983lv
    4Krišjānis KundziņšKrišjānis Kundziņš19.03.190523.02.1993lv
    5Leni RiefenstahlLeni Riefenstahl22.08.190208.09.2003de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    6Adolf HitlerAdolf Hitler20.04.188930.04.1945en, lv, pl, ru
    7Alberts  KviesisAlberts Kviesis22.12.188109.08.1944de, en, fr, lt, lv, pl, ru, ua
    8Pierre de CoubertinPierre de Coubertin01.01.186302.09.1937de, en, fr, lt, lv, pl, ru